On a farm in North Carolina, my mother taught me 25 wonderful words. She said, “I want you to learn this passage from the Bible.” While giving me a bath on a Saturday night, she taught me this passage: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).
People ask me: “Well, if God loves the world, why does He allow so much suffering? Why doesn’t God just come and stop it all?”
Some people here in New York are saying, “I can’t take it anymore,” and they’re committing suicide. The pressures of life are too great. They can’t take it. Why? If there is a God, why doesn’t He end it? Some people say, “Why has God abandoned us?” But God has not abandoned us. We’ve abandoned Him.
Do I believe in God? Yes. I can’t prove God. I can’t take you to a scientific laboratory and prove to you that there is a God. But the Bible teaches us about Him.
He is the Creator. That is the first thing the Bible tells us: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, NKJV). All the stars at night–if you can see them in New York–God created them.
God is also a Spirit. The Bible says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, NKJV). He doesn’t have a body like us. He could only be one place at a time if He had a body like ours. But God is a Spirit, so He can be everywhere at the same time.
God is also unchanging. “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NKJV). James 1:17 also says that in Him “there is no variation or shadow of turning” (NKJV).
The Bible teaches that God is an absolutely holy God, and He cannot even look upon sin.
The Bible also tells us that He’s a God of judgment. “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14, NKJV). All your secret thoughts–things that you thought nobody knew about–are someday going to be brought into the open. You are going to be judged.
But God also is a God of love. My mother loved me, but she didn’t love me nearly as much as God loves me. That seems impossible to believe. My wife loves me; I love her. I have five children; I love them. But nothing is to be compared to the love of God. The Bible says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJV).
He loves you. And if there’s one thing I want you to take from this great park when you leave here today, it’s this: God loves you! God loves you, and God is interested in you. He has the hairs of your head numbered; He sees the sparrow fall. He knows all about you, and He loves you. No matter how many sins you’ve committed, or whatever you’ve done–God loves you. He can change your life if you will let Him.
For this reason God created man. Have you ever wondered why you’re here, why God created the human race? God created you because He’s a God of love, and He wanted some other creatures in the universe that could choose to love Him in return. So He created man–Adam and Eve. He put them in a perfect paradise.
God created man and put him in the Garden of Eden, the perfect environment. He gave man a choice. He said, “I want you to have all the fruit of the garden, except one tree. You can’t eat of that one tree.” God was testing man. He said, “If you eat of that tree, you are going to break my law, you’re going to suffer, and you’re going to die” (Cf. Genesis 2:16-17). But man chose to rebel against God.
I watched a TV talk show the other day. They were discussing what’s wrong with human nature. Why do people commit the crimes they do? Why are there so many problems in the world? It’s because man has a disease, and the disease is called sin.
Our social problems are basically moral and spiritual problems, and they require a religious solution. People have been looking to technology or a political force to save them. But God says that the problem is in our hearts. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19, NKJV).
In Romans it says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, KJV). The Bible says, “Sin is a breaking of the law” (Cf. 1 John 3:4). What law? The law of conscience. Have you ever gone against your conscience? Then you’ve committed a sin. Have you ever broken one of the Ten Commandments? Then you’re a sinner. Have you ever failed to keep the requirements of the Sermon on the Mount? Then you’re a sinner.
Sin comes between you and God, between you and peace, between you and happiness and between you and the assurance that if you died you would go to heaven.
The Bible teaches about death’s dimensions. There’s natural death. When we die, we’re going to be buried or cremated. We disappear from this earth.
However, there’s also spiritual death. Living inside of you is your soul, your spirit. That’s the part of you that lives forever. That’s the part of you that can have fellowship with God. But you have broken God’s law, and you are spiritually dead. You’re dead toward God, and that death will continue throughout eternity.
God looked down from heaven and saw us with all of our darkness, our stumbling, our problems, our fighting, our bickering and wars. Because of His love, God decided to do something about it. God couldn’t just forgive us, or He would break His own word. He had said that if you sin, you’re going to die. We had to die, so God’s word could be kept.
So God became a man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born of the Virgin Mary, and He came for one purpose-to die on the cross and to take our sins upon Himself.
In that terrible moment when He was hanging there, He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46, NKJV). That was the moment when God took our sins and put them on Jesus.
He was made to be sin for us. He became guilty of all the envy, jealousy, fighting and killing. Isaiah prophesied: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV).
Now what does God require of you? Repentance. There’s not a person on earth who can say, “My life is complete and spiritually filled.” We all fall short. We have to say with everyone else, “I, too, am a sinner. I’m lost. I need to find my way home.” It’s not an option. It’s a command. In Acts 17, the apostle in his sermon says, “God É commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30, NKJV). Have you repented? Are you sure of it? If you haven’t repented of your sins, you’ll never see the inside of the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you’re lost, the only way home is to come to the Cross. The Cross of Christ directs lost people to their eternal home. But Jesus didn’t stay on a cross. God raised Him from the dead. I’m speaking to you about a living Christ! He can come into your heart today by the Holy Spirit, make you a new person and take away your loneliness and sin. He will wipe them away, so that when God sees you, you’re justified in His sight, as though you had never sinned.
Jesus said, “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64, NKJV). He’s coming back, and He’s going to set up His Kingdom.
Someday Jesus will rule the world, but today He wants to rule your heart. He wants to come into your home, your family and your neighborhood. But you have to come to Him by faith. The Apostle Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9, NKJV). You’ll never be able to work your way to heaven. But today you can come by the grace of God.
God created us to know Him and to love Him–but sin stands in the way. Still, God loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for your sin. He is longing to welcome you back home. He only asks that you come to Him through faith in Jesus and repent of your sins. Will you allow Him to rule your heart and to wash away your sins?